DC Replacement Caravan
Control practice 9.63
Ministerial advice which bears on the reconstruction and re-use of rural dwellings is contained in PPS7 on Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, PPS1 on Delivering Sustainable Development, PPG3 on Housing and PPG2 on Green Belts.
One of the key principles of PPS7 is that priority should be given to the re-use of previously-developed (‘brownfield’) sites in preference to the development of greenfield sites. However, exception is made where brownfield sites perform poorly in terms of sustainability considerations (for example, in their remoteness from settlements and services) in comparison with greenfield sites).
PPG7 contained no guidance at all on the subject of the replacement and refurbishment of existing rural dwellings. Similarly, the slant of the text in paragraphs 17 to 20 of PPS7 appears to be towards the conversion or replacement of non-residential buildings, however it seems that its objectives apply equally to dwellings.
Paras 17 and 18 relate to the re-use of buildings in the countryside. It is stated that the Government’s policy is to support the re-use of appropriately located and suitably constructed existing buildings in the countryside where this would meet sustainable development objectives. It continues that re-use for economic development purposes will usually be preferable, but residential conversions may be more appropriate in some locations, and for some types of building. Although this advice is specifically directed to new uses, resumption of abandoned residential uses must fall within this policy just as much as, say, barn conversions. Planning authorities are required to set out in LDDs their policy criteria for permitting the conversion and re-use of buildings in the countryside for economic, residential and any other purposes, including mixed uses, and these criteria should take account of:
– the potential impact on the countryside and landscapes and wildlife;
– specific local economic and social needs and opportunities;
– settlement patterns and accessibility to service centres, markets and housing;
– the suitability of different types of buildings, and of different scales, for re-use;
– the need to preserve, or the desirability of preserving, buildings of historic or architectural importance or interest, or which otherwise contribute to local character.
Local planning authorities are also advised to be particularly supportive of the re-use of existing buildings that are adjacent or closely related to country towns and villages, for economic or community uses, or to provide housing in accordance with the policies in PPG3, and subject to the policies in paragraph 7 of PPS7 which relate to the retention of local services.
Paras 19 and 20 relate to the replacement of buildings in the countryside. The Government supports the replacement of suitably located, existing buildings of permanent design and construction in the countryside for economic development purposes. Again, the objectives appear to apply equally to replacement dwellings. A pragmatic approach is advised: “The replacement of buildings should be favoured where this would result in a more acceptable and sustainable development than might be achieved through conversion, for example, where the replacement building would bring about an environmental improvement in terms of the impact of the development on its surroundings and the landscape.” Again local planning authorities should set out in their LDDs the criteria they will apply to the replacement of countryside buildings. These should take account of the considerations set out above that apply to the conversion and reuse of existing buildings in the countryside. Authorities should also set out the circumstances where replacement would not be acceptable and clarify the permissible scale of replacement buildings.
A firm line is taken on the replacement of non-residential buildings with residential development in the countryside. PPS7 advises that this should be treated as new housing development in accordance with the policies in PPG3 on Housing, or where appropriate special justification will be required for isolated new houses, for example to meet the essential needs of agriculture.
PPS1 on Delivering Sustainable Development is relevant to the reconstruction and re-use of rural dwellings in that it sets out the overarching planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system. In terms of the general approach to sustainable development, at Para 27 (viii) it is emphasized that planning authorities should seek, amongst other things, to promote “the use of suitably located previously developed land and buildings. Planning should seek actively to bring vacant and underused previously developed land and buildings back into beneficial use to achieve the targets the Government has set for development on previously developed land”.
PPG 3 on Housing reiterates the Government’s commitment to promoting more sustainable patterns of development. In terms of maintaining a supply of housing this can be achieved by maximising the re-use of previously-developed land and the conversion and re-use of existing buildings (Para 21). Further, at Para 65 it is recognized that not all development can take place within urban areas. Where development has to take place outside urban areas, the Government is looking to local planning authorities to utilise the most sustainable option.
The government’s approach to the replacement of dwellings in the green belt is outlined at Para 3.6 of PPG2: “The replacement of existing dwellings need not be inappropriate, providing the new dwelling is not materially larger than the dwelling it replaces. Development plans should make clear the approach local planning authorities will take, including the circumstances (if any) under which replacement dwellings are acceptable”.
With regard to the re-use of buildings within a green belt Para 3.8 states that it is not inappropriate development providing:
(a) it does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it;
(b) strict control is exercised over the extension of re-used buildings, and over any associated uses of land surrounding the building which might conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it (e.g. because they involve extensive external storage, or extensive hardstanding, car parking, boundary walling or fencing);
(c) the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction, and are capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction; and
(d) the form, bulk and general design of the buildings are in keeping with their surroundings. (Conversion proposals may be more acceptable if they respect local building styles and materials, though the use of equivalent natural materials that are not local should not be ruled out).
Replacement dwellings 9.631
Structure and local plan policies relating to rural replacement dwellings, where one dwelling is to be replaced by another on the same plot, vary a good deal. Some policies are nonspecific, only allowing exceptions to normal restraint relating to new building in the countryside in “special” or “exceptional” circumstances; while others are more detailed and generally more permissive, allowing unobtrusive replacements which satisfy criteria relating to conformity with the scale and character of the existing building. Some authorities adopt a rule of thumb approach with regard to increased floor area provided in the new building as against the old. Other variations stipulate that an increase in floor space should only extend to what would have been permitted development in relation to the original structure. Further criteria applied by local authorities relating to need or personal circumstances allow for the fact that an applicant may be living in unsatisfactory conditions. Replacement for dwellings which fall within settlement boundaries are, of course, subject to the generally more relaxed policy tests applied to conventional village housing, as described in (9.13).
The pragmatic response to most rural replacement house proposals, as applied by most of the Inspectorate, is to note appropriate plan policy but to use ministerial advice to examine a proposed dwelling for any increased impact on the rural scene, and to determine whether or not the proposal would be significantly more intrusive. The inspectorate sometimes takes a sympathetic view, as in (Carrick D.C. 5/12/84 DCS No.053-769-957) where a replacement for a dwelling lost by “careless actions” was thought to be visually acceptable although higher than the original. The inspector observed that a development of this sort could hardly be alien to the countryside as per structure plan policy; it was merely the replacement of an inadequate dwelling on the site. Such responses are uncommon, however, due to the fact that replacement dwellings are normally very much larger is than the original houses and also tend to be visually less attractive. Typical of such decisions (New Forest D.C. 18/7/88 DCS No.047-865-063) where a Victorian cottage was to be replaced in a green belt area. The inspector noted that in general the site was visible from the highway, although the proposal being further back in the plot was less likely to be intrusive than that existing. However, because the new building was bulky and cubic, with a busy roofscape, it would be obtrusive. The inspector concluded that a carefully redesigned building could be “infiltrated” onto this large site. A further good example of dismissal of a large scale replacement house is (Mole Valley D.C. 6/4/89 DCS No.057-879-139) where a house twice the size of the original was refused, although the authority had considered a previously proposed 20% increase in size to be acceptable. The authority argued that the gradual replacement of cottages by mansions would lead to the long term erosion of the countryside, and the inspector supported this stance. He concluded that the fact the house was remote from public view and well screened did not outweigh restraint policy, and cases such as this could be repeated too often resulting in the cumulative and gradual erosion of the character of the countryside by increased building mass.
In Maidstone the replacement of three bungalows with four dwellings was rejected, firstly on the grounds that there was no agricultural need, but secondly because the proposed replacement dwellings would be too large. The inspector noted that the comparative floor areas of the corresponding replacement dwellings would be 177%, 121%, and 210% larger respectively. As such he decided that they would have a significantly greater impact in the street scene. (Maidstone 22/10/03 DCS No. 051-722-460).
A court case which offers support to this resistance to overlarge replacement dwellings is Yeates v SSETR, 30/01/01 in which a challenge to an inspector’s decision refusing permission for a replacement dwelling of 315 square metres was rejected. The owner argued that the existing dwelling was only 25 square metres but permission had already been granted for a dwelling of 50 square metres and this was the benchmark against which the inspector should have considered the larger property. However the judge concluded that this was the wrong test since if the permission for the 50 square metre property had been taking as a starting point this could lead to the ‘ratcheting’ of larger sized dwellings in the countryside. This, he held, would inexorably increase the size until a very substantial dwelling would be created. Thus it was readily understandable why the inspector had refused permission for a two storey dwelling.
In cases where a dwelling to be replaced has been abandoned there is naturally no policy support for any building and it is extremely rare for permission to be granted, and an award of costs for unreasonable pursuance of an appeal is possible. On the other hand, where the dwelling to be replaced is in poor condition but not abandoned there may be personal or eyesore removal arguments in favour of permission in a marginal situation. A court case Kennet D.C. v S.O.S. & Warburton 14/5/93 saw support for an inspector’s reasoning that the gain from the removal of ugly extensions and outbuildings justified a 4 bedroomed house based on a listed Gothic lodge in an A.O.N.B.
As discussed above the first considerations in the treatment of replacement dwellings are generally the principle and, if the principle is accepted, the size. Other considerations which come into play are the location, particularly if not on the same footprint as the existing dwelling, and design.
The following cases illustrate these issues:
Of course the first obstacle to be jumped in replacing a dwelling is to establish that such a right exists in the first place, and this has been explored in the following cases:
Permission was sought for the retention of use of a service wing in a former country house as a dwelling. The majority of the 19th century hall had been demolished in 1962 apart from a service wing and stable block and subsequently permission was granted for the conversion of the service wing to a dwelling but this consent was not implemented. However in converting the building substantial rebuilding was necessary and the council served an enforcement notice requiring its demolition. The inspector accepted that it was inappropriate development since it had involved major reconstruction. However having regard to the previous grant of permission which would have entailed significant works of rebuilding in a similar manner to that built, represented a very special circumstance. The erection of a double garage and conservatory which had been erected were however new elements which were judged unacceptable by the inspector and a condition was imposed requiring their removal. (Lichfield 20/02/01 DCS No. 043-874-421).
Lichfield: Principle of dwelling use accepted in country house service wing
An enforcement notice was directed at a wooden building reconstructed from a former dwelling on a rural site in Cambridgeshire. The appellant argued that permission to replace an old dwelling formerly located on the land was not required, as he had a lawful right to use the land for residential purposes. The dwelling in question was in fact a shed which had been used as a dwelling, but the appellant argued that he had a right to replace this dwelling as it had been on the land since the 1930s and the use was there on 1 July 1948. While it was not disputed that the original shed on the site had indeed been lived in, the inspector considered that it stopped being used as a dwelling in 1987, even though the appellant made use of toilet and washing facilities during the day.
The appellant also argued that he had the right to replace one moveable shed with another. In considering this, the inspector noted that when the original wooden structure was removed, the old concrete base was broken up and used as hardcore for the new larger base currently on the site. Two courses of bricks forming a plinth had been laid on the base, plus a damp proof course membrane, and the new wooden structure, measuring 12.1 m wide and 7.1 m deep, was put on top. While it was stated that the structure was not attached to the ground, it was concluded that this did not mean that it was not a structure in the nature of a building. In dismissing the appeal on ground (c), the inspector was in no doubt that what had occurred was a building operation and as a matter of fact and degree was not something moveable. In determining the section 78 appeal the inspector identified the main issue as being whether the dwelling materially harmed the rural character and appearance of the area. The site was in a very flat and open rural area and the development was very intrusive and that no justification had been put forward to outweigh the strong policy objections in an up to date development plan. (South Cambridgeshire 11/10/01 DCS No. 038-291-244)
A scheme involving the replacement of a dwelling demolished to enable the construction of the M25 motorway in the 1980s was rejected after an inspector agreed with the council that it represented an inappropriate form of development in the metropolitan green belt. The appellant argued that it had not been possible to submit an application for a replacement dwelling sooner because following the opening of the motorway in 1985, further work was undertaken as to whether other land in the vicinity of the appeal site, was to be required for motorway use. However the inspector decided that the former dwelling had completely disappeared and consequently the proposal did not involve the replacement of an existing dwelling. Accordingly it involved inappropriate development which would be harmful to the openness of the area. (Reigate and Banstead 13/01/05 DCS No. 055-633-459)
A five bedroom dwelling was allowed as a replacement for a converted barn, an inspector concluding that the council’s opposition to the scheme was fundamentally flawed. The appeal site lay in the open countryside and contained two linked former agricultural buildings. The council had granted a LDC confirming that the northern building extending to 30m long and 11m wide could be lawfully used as a dwellinghouse. However in registering the planning application the council had changed the description of the proposed development to include reference to the erection of a “new dwelling”. The inspector held that this approach was fundamentally flawed because there was an existing dwelling occupying part of the appeal site. In considering the application the council had apparently disregarded the demolition of the existing dwelling and concentrated on assessing it as though it related to a completely new dwelling in the countryside. This was flawed and justified making a full award of costs in favour of the appellants. (North Devon 20/07/04 DCS No. 047-762-090)
North Devon: Dwelling accepted as replacement of converted barn
A LDC for the demolition of an existing dwellinghouse and the construction of a replacement dwelling was rejected following an inspector’s conclusion that an appellant and his advisers had fundamentally misunderstood relevant planning law. The appellant claimed that the LDC application had been made in order to obtain permission in principle without going to the trouble and expense of a full planning application. In rejecting the application the council had failed to address the merits of the scheme, the appellant concluded. An inspector noted that the development was not permitted under the GPDO and constituted development under section 55 of the 1990 Act. Where a prospective developer wished to obtain permission in principle, the correct course of action would be to submit an outline planning application. In determining a LDC application, the planning merits of the development were irrelevant the inspector noted and concluded that the appellant’s case was without substance. In dismissing the appeal, the inspector awarded a full set of costs to the council. The appellant’s arguments were flawed and misconceived and were largely based on misinterpreting relevant planning law. The appeal had no reasonable prospect of success and accordingly the council had been put to unnecessary expense in preparing for the hearing. (Bromsgrove 30/12/02 DCS No. 042-390-180)
The tendency is for proposals for replacement dwellings to be larger than that which it is proposed to replace, and this is, of course, a particular issue in the green belt.
The following examples illustrate cases where replacement dwellings have been rejected due to size:
The replacement of an existing bungalow was rejected because it would undermine the objective of the council’s replacement dwellings policy, which provided that a similar replacement not exceeding a floor area of 135 square metres might be allowed. An inspector noted that the existing buildings comprised a bungalow of 76 square metres and a Nissen hut and shed. The proposed dwelling would have a floorspace of 176 square metres. The appellant submitted that the total floor area of the three existing buildings should be included. The inspector, however, considered that to permit this degree of flexibility in the interpretation of the policy would seriously undermine the objective of ensuring that replacement dwellings were unobtrusive and appropriate in scale and character to existing dwellings. (Maldon 25/06/91 DCS No. 100-024-731)
The fact that a rural replacement dwelling had to be taller than the original building because the new structure needed to be raised above flooding levels contributed to an appeal dismissal. An inspector felt that the proposal, on the banks of the Severn at Upton, would be unacceptable because of resiting in a nearby open orchard. The extra height needed to provide a floor level 600mm above the maximum recorded or 1 in 100 year flood level, reinforced his judgement (Malvern Hills D.C. 25/3/96 040-740-599).
A scheme to replace a pre-fabricated steel framed dwelling within the countryside with a larger permanent house failed because it involved an increase in floorspace of 322%. The site contained an existing structure of 45m2 which had been brought onto the site in two pieces and bolted together in the middle. An inspector agreed that the structure’s degree of permanence and physical attachment to the ground meant that it was a building in planning terms, and noted that if only the use of land was involved local plan policy would not prevent a dwelling from being erected in principle. However, the inspector observed that the policy required that replacement dwellings of less than 120 square metres in floor area should not be more than 25% larger. The appeal proposal would create a dwelling of 190 square metres with three bedrooms, en-suite, study, lounge and other rooms and this was not justified by the need to improve the cramped living conditions experienced by the appellant and his growing family. (Winchester 28/05/03 DCS No. 029-984-611)
Winchester: Replacement dwelling rejected on grounds of size
Habitable floorspace debated. Two proposals sought permission to replace a bungalow with a new dwelling ranging between 163 to 210 sq.m. The original dwelling consisted of 97 sq.m. This was extended by 23 sq.m additions and an annex of approximately 27 sq.m. A council argued that the annex and all but 10 sq.m. of loft should be excluded. An appellant argued the contrary and advocated 65 sq.m. of loft area giving a total of around 192 sq.m. An inspector noted that only a small part of the loft was capable of being habitable. Moreover the annex was not suitable other than for seasonal or occasional occupation. Thus the schemes exceeded a local plan policy threshold which stated that they should be no greater in size. They would therefore harm the green belt. (Rochford 10/02/99 DCS No. 044-230-246).
A replacement dwelling was proposed in the green belt and the main issue was whether it was of an appropriate size having regard to a local plan policy which restricted the size to 140 sq.m. The existing dwelling had not been lived in for many years but it was not clear whether the use had been abandoned. The new dwelling was proposed at 218 sq.m. compared with an existing floorspace of 58 sq.m. This did not meet the local plan policy nor the advice in paragraph 3.6 of PPG2. It would harm the green belt and an AONB. (Sevenoaks 13/01/00 DCS No. 040-829-074)
A replacement dwelling in the metropolitan green belt in Hertfordshire was rejected as its size and scale materially harmed the openness of the area. The site had originally contained a wooden Norwegian style chalet in residential use with a floorspace of approximately 380 sq.m.. Subsequently in 1991 a council granted permission for a large replacement house with a floorspace of 988 sq.m.. The area was transferred into the administrative control of an adjoining local authority which in 2001 granted permission for a similar sized dwelling to that approved in 1991. The council served an enforcement notice, arguing that the house was not being constructed in accordance with the approved plans. This required the amendment of what had been built to comply with the permission. An inspector held that the construction of a dwelling two and a half times greater than that which had originally existed, would not normally considered to be appropriate development in the green belt. It was noted that the original authority in 1991 had come to a different view and the second authority had reluctantly agreed because the permission remained extant. The inspector concluded that any additional increase above the 1991 and 2001 permissions would constitute inappropriate development. The house which was under construction had a floorspace 12% greater than the 2001 permission. The cumulative changes which had been made to the approved plans harmed the openness of the area and there were no very special circumstances. (Hertsmere 13/03/03 DCS No. 041-295-188)
Hertsmere: Replacement dwelling rejected due to size
A sectional dwelling extending to 70 sq.m. was proposed to be replaced with a bungalow of 156 sq.m. This was greater than that achievable under permitted development rights. It would be materially larger than the existing and was inappropriate. Permission was refused. (Thurrock 16/12/99 DCS No. 041-297-620)
However, in the following appeal cases other material considerations were found sufficient to outweigh the issue of increased size:
A replacement dwelling involved the construction of a dwelling extending to 469 sq.m. an increase on 40% over the existing property. An inspector noted that permission for a replacement house had already been granted and this was 13% larger than the existing. In addition a local plan policy which permitted extensions of up to 50% of the original floor area was considered by the inspector as appropriate to use as a benchmark since it applied throughout the local plan area. The inspector accepted that the appeal proposal would have less impact on the openness of the green belt being sited at a lower level and in a less prominent location. Moreover the inspector noted that existing buildings totalling 943 sq.m. would be demolished and whilst long established, they would improve the openness of the locality. (Warwick 25/10/00 DCS No. 031-872-995)
An enforcement notice alleged the development of a green belt replacement dwelling, which had been partly erected but not in accord with approved plans. An inspector felt that the allegation that an unauthorised dwelling had been erected was incorrect as it did not recognise that the principle of a dwelling had been accepted, and that parts of the entity did follow approved plans. The allegation was amended accordingly. In considering the planning merits an inspector noted that the proposal had to be regarded afresh and did not conform with policy as it would double the size of the cottage it replaced. However, a sec. 106 obligation to relinquish a permission for another replacement dwelling at the farm in question and to demolish the original, was considered a special circumstance. The two dwellings to be demolished aggregated to 350 sq.m. and the present proposal at 441 sq.m. only represented a 26% increase which was acceptable. (Hertsmere 06/06/00 DCS No. 038-659-508)
A proposal for a replacement house in the open countryside was allowed despite an increase in floorspace of 37 per cent, with the high quality of design proposed being an important factor in an inspector’s assessment. The site was in open countryside in Berkshire. An inspector noted that an increase of floorspace was only one matter to be taken into account when assessing whether this would be disproportionate in local plan policy terms. The house would be cut into a slope reducing its apparent mass, and the proposed flat roof would be less bulky that a traditional pitched roof. The inspector also felt that the fact that the house would not be seen in the context of other development was an opportunity to provide a building of individual design. The uncompromisingly modern appearance of the house would result in a striking building of some note, which would make a far better response to its sloping wooded setting, than a traditional two-storey house of traditional design. It was concluded that the high standard of design would make a particular contribution, rather than cause harm, to the character and appearance of the rural area. (West Berkshire 20/08/01 DCS No. 032-206-286)
A two-storey dwelling to replace a bungalow in a green gap was viewed as acceptable notwithstanding a 4m increase in its height. The existing bungalow had a floor area of 381m2 and the replacement house was to extend to 415m2 and 8.7m in height. The increase of floor area by 9% was not viewed as significant by an inspector but it was accepted that when taken in combination with the proposed increase in roof height there would be breach of a local plan policy aimed at maintaining the openness of the green wedge. The inspector ruled that in this particular case other factors supported a grant of permission. In particular the dwelling had an exceptionally large plot and the open area within the centre could not been seen from any public viewpoint. Finally the inspector accepted that the prevailing character of the area involved large dwellings and the proposal would simply replicate this pattern. Permission was justified given that the appellant was also willing to remove a scaffold hire business from the site, which harmed the character of the area. (Wokingham 08/07/03 DCS No. 054-401-334).
A replacement dwelling in the green belt was allowed as although judged inappropriate it would enhance the character and appearance of a conservation area. The proposed floor area of the new house was 196 sq.m. compared with the existing dwelling of 123 sq.m., an increase of 60%. An inspector judged that this was a disproportionate increase in green belt terms but felt that because there would be conservation area enhancement, this amounted to a very special circumstance justifying permission. The development would enclose a village green which was of particular visual importance because it contrasted so markedly with the open countryside beyond. (Guildford 06/03/03 DCS No. 052-365-317)
An appellant wished to construct a basement as part of a replacement dwelling. The local authority had previously approved a replacement bungalow without a basement and claimed that the appeal proposal would create an unacceptable increase in the amount of floorspace. However an inspector held that provided the height of the ridge was not altered, the provision of floorspace underground was not of significance in visual or planning terms. (Eastleigh 11/03/02 DCS No. 044-944-944)
A proposal to replace an existing dwelling with a 52.5% increase in floorspace was allowed on the basis that a large number of outbuildings in the rear garden would be removed. They formed a prominent ‘finger’ of development and extended built development into the countryside and green belt. The dwelling would be re-positioned within the site also making it less prominent. The positive enhancement of openness represented an important material consideration. (Waverley 13/12/99 DCS No. 054-069-809)
A replacement dwelling was proposed and involved a significant increase over the existing. A local plan policy would allow a dwelling of 513 cubic metres, whereas the proposal involved some 826 cubic metres. It was allowed on the basis that the site made very little contribution to the green belt as the site was surrounded by suburban development such that openness would not be harmed. This was a sufficiently special circumstance to outweigh harm. (Castle Point 03/12/99 DCS No. 059-973-918)
A 1920s bungalow was proposed to be demolished and be replaced with a dormer bungalow which would have a larger footprint and somewhat taller. Overall however it would not be significantly larger and was thus not inappropriate. Its replacement would increase the sense of openness when viewed from certain directions and would not appear out of place. (Ellesmere Port & Neston 02/11/99 DCS No. 037-596-066)
Having established that the principle of replacement is acceptable and the size is appropriate it can occur that the next issue to be taken into consideration is whether or not the location of the replacement is acceptable, as the following cases demonstrate:
The rebuilding and partial re-positioning of a converted tram carriage in the flood plain of the river Soar was allowed despite the objections of the Environment Agency (EA). The EA claimed that the dwelling was positioned in a high risk area and in accordance with advice in PPG25, built development was justified only in exceptional circumstances. It argued that there had been no assessment of flood risk and the precautionary principle required that permission should be refused. The deputy prime minister agreed that the development conflicted with advice in PPG25. However, because it involved a replacement dwelling with a similar footprint, it would have a negligible effect on the proper functioning of the flood plain and consequently it would not increase the risk of flooding. This amounted to an exceptional circumstance, he decided. (Rushcliffe 30/09/03 DCS No. 031-525-197).
Rushcliffe: Dwelling allowed in floodplain on same footprint as existing
An enforcement notice alleged the demolition of a converted boathouse and the commencement of the construction of a new dwelling. The site was on the Sandbanks peninsula facing Poole harbour and had contained a dwelling originally converted from a boathouse during the last war. In 1999 permission was given for extensions and alterations to this dwelling, but the site had been virtually cleared. The appellant argued that the 1999 permission and its associated plans could be interpreted as allowing what was tantamount to a new dwelling to be constructed. An inspector concluded that the approved plans and the wording of the application and permission proposed a scheme with an element of reconstruction but also with a significant amount of the old being retained and extended. The amount of demolition that had taken place meant that the 1999 permission had been far exceeded and that the building of a five bedroom dwelling on this site now, even if it had the shape and form of the dwelling shown on the application plans, represented the construction of a new house. In considering the planning merits of the case the inspector noted local plan policy which discouraged development in the immediate vicinity of the beach or water’s edge, and the house was in clear breach of that constraint, and would create a harmful precedent. However, he conceded that in itself the design, bulk and density of the proposed house would respect the character and appearance of the surrounding area. The inspector also dealt with an extensive submission that the appellant’s human rights had been breached but this was rejected. (Poole 22/08/01 DCS No. 048-159-224).
A replacement bungalow in a remote coastal location was rejected because it would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area which was not outweighed by its location in a tidal flood plain. The appeal proposal would have resulted in the demolition of the existing flat-roofed bungalow and its replacement with a pitched roof bungalow on a larger footprint. The appellant indicated that the proposal would incorporate an upper floor level which would, in the event of a flood, provide him and his family with a means of escape to an upper floor and, through an escape hatch, a means of exit to the roof where rescue could take place. An inspector held that the bulk and height of the roof would be such that it would be an unduly prominent and incongruous feature in the wider landscape setting, and as such it would be out of keeping with the locality and adversely affect the open, rural character. He noted that the principle of a replacement dwelling had been established by an earlier approved scheme, but that the Environment Agency had raised no objection to that proposal, and nor had it suggested any changes to the design of the bungalow to mitigate flooding. It had identified the site as lying within the coastal flood plain, but in an area defended against a 1 in 200 year flood risk. Accordingly, the inspector concluded that the location of the site within the tidal floodplain was not a material consideration that would outweigh the harm caused by the proposal to the character and appearance of the area. (Tendring 24/09/04 DCS No. 034-849-014).
Replacement house. The relocation of a house from a site within the Public Safety Zone of Stansted Airport to a situation outside this area was rejected. An inspector felt that the proposal would result in the new dwelling having a greater footprint than the existing, on a larger plot. The proposal would not be in such close proximity to that existing as to comply with Local Plan policy relating to replacement dwellings. The reduction in the numbers of people living within the PSZ did not outweigh the objections (Uttlesford D.C. 16/4/96 055-620-564).
Lastly, the design of replacement dwellings can be an issue, particularly where it is proposed to replace a dwelling which is vernacular in character with a house which has a more suburban style. Size can also be linked to design, for example where a new country house is proposed in replacement of an existing dwelling in the countryside. Design was raised as an issue in the following examples:
An existing manor house was proposed to be demolished and a new building erected based upon a timber frame. The guidance within Annex C of PPG2 did not apply. With regard to paragraph 3.21 of PPG7 the building would not be truly outstanding since it essentially represented a reproduction of an earlier style house. No landscaping details had been submitted and thus it did not meet the exacting standards of PPG7. It was inappropriate development within the green belt and permission was not justified. (Bromsgrove 15/05/00 DCS No. 038-371-643)
The replacement of an existing dwelling in the green belt, was rejected after an inspector decided that the innovative design was inappropriate to the countryside location. The appellants wished to create a building which drew on the influences of various periods of the modernist style of architecture and which also embraced modern technology. They proposed a two-storey, rectangular, flat roofed modern building with a rear single storey outbuilding within a comprehensive landscaping scheme. The inspector noted that the proposed dwelling would be approximately 80% larger than the existing. On this basis he decided that it involved an inappropriate form of development which would reduce the openness of the area. In addition he decided that the size, scale and shape of the top half of the building would have an intrusive impact on its surroundings. Its white coloured finish would appear harsh and stark with rather foreboding areas of glass, adding to its incongruous appearance. With regard to the claims by the appellants that the scheme had been designed as a comprehensive whole and involved the latest energy saving features, he decided that the design was not so exceptional and innovative as to outweigh the conflict with green belt and countryside policies. (Macclesfield 07/02/05 DCS No. 052-635-196)
A proposal involving the demolition of a lodge and its replacement with a new dwelling in the grounds of a former hospital, of grade II listed status, was rejected. One of the principal issues was whether the lodge fell within the curtilage of the listed building. The appellants argued that the lodge was not a curtilage building based upon the advice within paragraphs 3.35 and 3.36 of PPG15 on listed buildings. In particular it was claimed that since the lodge pre-dated the construction of the hospital and had its own curtilage, it was self contained and there was no design relationship between them. The inspector had regard to the judgment in Skerritts of Nottingham  and noted that it had functioned in the past as a gate lodge to the hospital and indeed had been the only lodge between 1855 to 1875. Whilst some maps indicated what might have been a garden enclosure around the building, this could only have been entered from the grounds of the hospital and in the inspector’s opinion this did not constitute a separate domestic curtilage. The lodge therefore was deemed to benefit from listed building protection. In relation to its proposed demolition, the inspector accepted that its original character and function remained discernable irrespective of crude twentieth century additions and that whilst not a rare example of its type, it remained important as a contemporary minor estate building notwithstanding the decision of English Heritage not to list the building individually. Moreover he concluded that the proposed replacement house involving a substantial building with four bedrooms and pastiche embellishments, had no visual relationship with the hospital buildings and would therefore “appear completely inappropriate and disruptive to the simple magnificence of the Victorian concept.” Listed building and planning permissions were denied. (Reigate and Banstead 06/10/00 DCS No. 039-863-740).
The erection of a new dwelling to replace a fire damaged property, was allowed after an inspector decided that the contemporary design was not inappropriate to the area. The site occupied an isolated position overlooking a river estuary. The existing property comprised a two storey rectangular white washed slate building with a pitched slate roof and in 2001 it was substantially destroyed by fire. The appellants proposed to erect a dwelling measuring 13m by 14m, which would consist of two interconnecting rectangular elements up to three storeys high with parts of it clad in slate. The inspector decided that the proposal involved a modern but sensitive interpretation of the vernacular design style. It would be a pleasing and visually exciting contemporary addition to the architecture of the county and while larger than the original dwelling would not harm the character of the area, he opined. (North Cornwall 19/07/05 DCS No. 100-038-095)
Two appeals involving the total demolition of a dwelling in a conservation area, failed after an inspector decided that a proposed replacement dwelling was unacceptable. The cottage was in poor condition and a structural survey revealed cracks within the structure together with a lack of stability. The cost of putting it back into beneficial and safe use, would be prohibitive the inspector decided and consequently these considerations supported its demolition. However he noted that a two-storey dwelling with four bedrooms was being proposed as a replacement. He agreed that the design would be overly fussy with the front elevation of the building appearing as five different components rather than one comprehensive and integrated design. Since it would lack visual coherence it would not preserve the character of the conservation area and this justified refusing the scheme. In the absence of an acceptable replacement the demolition of the existing cottage was also unjustified he ruled because its removal would leave an unsightly gap in the conservation area. (Stratford-on-Avon 29/06/05 DCS No. 100-037-881)
An English country house in the open countryside was rejected, an inspector having decided that although of a high quality design, there was nothing groundbreaking in the proposal as regards its design, use of materials or contribution to protecting and enhancing the environment and there was no evidence that it showed sensitivity to the defining characteristics of the area. The new dwelling was designed in the classical idiom, and incorporated elements of the portico and front façade of a Baptist tabernacle which stood from the 1880s to its demolition in 1978, admired by Pevsner for its pure classical quality. The inspector reasoned that as the proposal was for the replacement of an existing farmhouse, it did not fall strictly within the terms of the exceptions policy set out in PPS7 on sustainable development in rural areas. Nevertheless, he considered whether an approach based on the tests set out provided a justification for allowing the proposal. He agreed that the design was of a very high standard, well proportioned, balanced and harmonious. However, he remarked that the PPS7 test was very exacting. Key requirements were that the design should be innovative, as well as truly outstanding and groundbreaking. Neither party was able to give an example of other instances where a portico was to be re-used in the construction of a house, but the inspector did not regard this as sufficient evidence of an innovative approach to design. Re-use of salvaged materials was not in itself unusual, he opined. (South Northamptonshire 21/06/05 DCS No. 100-037-754)
An inspector sanctioned the construction of a replacement dwelling in a conservation area, concluding that its design in the ‘arts and crafts’ style was of a suitably high standard. The inspector noted that the character of the conservation area was very diverse. In the immediate vicinity of the appeal site, there were a number of houses standing in large plots, he observed and all were of modern construction. The replacement dwelling, he determined, had been designed in order to fit the somewhat limited width of the appeal site while maintaining an adequate separation from an adjoining property, he noted. In addition the scheme would allow the removal of a derelict and unsightly building, he concluded such that overall the scheme would enhance the character of the conservation area. In so finding he held that the use of a basement to house a swimming pool and games room represented the type of imaginative design supported by national guidance in PPG15 on the historic environment. (Canterbury 12/01/05 DCS No. 040-015-870)
The rebuilding of a former large suburban villa in the green belt, was refused after an inspector decided that it represented an inappropriate form of development. The property had been built between 1823 and 1830 and was listed in 1952. Following a public inquiry in 1996, an application to demolish the building was refused. In 1998 following a second inquiry, consent for its demolition was authorised by the secretary of state. This was subject to a section 106 agreement requiring the preservation of parts of the building which were of particular note. The features were dismantled, recorded and given to the City Council. The remaining stonework was placed in storage. The appellant claimed that the scheme would involve the re-erection of the building, with 90% of the original stonework available for use in its construction. The proposed siting had been chosen to echo the building’s original semi-rural setting close to the outskirts of a major commercial centre. In this regard it was claimed that the scheme accorded with national advice in PPS7, since it would involve an outstanding and high standard of building design which although not involving contemporary architecture, would be innovative and be of exceptional appearance. The inspector considered this argument and decided that in his view, it would not be truly innovative. The house would have no historic or architectural affinity to the area and although it was listed when demolished, this status would not apply to the new dwelling. In his opinion the principle of protecting the green belt was paramount and there was no indication that an alternative location which did not breach long established planning principles regarding development in such locations, did not exist. Moreover by adding to the supply of housing in the borough it would increase the over-supply relative to structure plan requirements and this also counted against the scheme, he decided. (Macclesfield 10/11/04 DCS No. 039-204-288)
The replacement of a dwelling was proposed to create a small country house together with a barn and swimming pool. It was refused on the grounds that the development would have a considerable presence, making a strong design statement which would draw attention away from a simple, grade I listed medieval church and harming the Chichester Harbour AONB. In rejecting the scheme the inspector placed more reliance upon his own observations of the site and surrounding in contrast to a high quality artists impression which failed to reflect accurately the likely visual impact. The residential curtilage which would be created with increased scope for domestication compared with the existing property, would undermine the semi-rural character and appearance of the locality and thereby would not conserve the landscape of the AONB. (Chichester 22/03/01 DCS No. 031-701-020)
Loss of original dwellings by accident 9.6311
Legal aspects of accidental loss have already been discussed at (9.612) but in decision making terms it is clearly unfair and unreasonable that someone whose dwelling has collapsed or been burnt down should be denied permission to replace it because of an accident or the unlawful acts of others, and when cases of this sort come to appeal the inspectorate are normally sympathetic and exercise common sense judgement see (4.191). However, a suggestion that damage or collapse has been contrived to secure permission for a new dwelling, which policy would otherwise prevent, may play a part in the decision making process, as in the West Lancashire case detailed below. As a reason for refusal this presents the system with the problem, noted previously in relation to abandonment cases (9.611), of providing clear evidence of an applicant’s intentions. Decision making difficulty can be heightened by the fact that the morality and legality of the actions of individuals are not matters that the planning system is well equipped to judge upon.
In one case a Scottish authority refused to allow the replacement of a fire damaged building – a former station that had been converted to a house. The site was remote from a settlement and in a green belt area. The reporter noted that the site had been used as a dwelling with permission until recently, and could see no objection in policy terms provided that the replacement was of similar scale. Further allowed cases involving fire damage rebuilds include (Basildon D.C. 29/8/84 034-356-717) relating to a green belt plotland situation, and (Swansea City Council 23/9/87DCS No.38175582 ) where a chalet in an A.O.N.B. had been lost. In (Islwyn B.C. 7/3/88 DCS No.037-760-959) the inspector thought it would be unduly harsh to reject a fire damage rebuild, even though to do so would be in accord with policy.
Conversely in (Aylesbury Vale DC 8/9/96) the inspector refused permission to re-erect a fire damaged house in a green belt area and an AONB. The original dwelling had burnt down in 1975 and permission to rebuild had been given in 1976 and renewed four times, the last time in 1988. An inspector noted that three years had elapsed between the expiry of the last renewal and the present application. He recognised that a pre-existing permission could be an important material consideration, and that there had been no material change in planning circumstances in this period. However, he felt that the proposal was contrary to policy and there were no special circumstances outweighing such objections.
A further interesting case from Wales concerned a proposal to rebuild a pair of cottages as one dwelling. Permission had been granted in terms of a renovation but refused for a rebuild after the unfit cottages had collapsed into a pile of rubble during the course of works. The inspector accepted that the proposal was tantamount to the erection of a new dwelling contrary to structure plan policy, but thought that the events which had led to the situation before him were unusual and that in the circumstances he would grant permission under the policy of the structure plan which permitted replacements (Wrexham Maelor B.C. 9/1/85 DCS No.029-977-514).
Another collapse case concerned a farmhouse which had fallen down during renovation work for which planning permission had been given. Works had commenced for a new farmhouse in a green belt area and enforcement action taken. There was considerable debate about the cause of the collapse, partly because of anonymous allegations that it had been allowed to occur deliberately, but the inspector concluded that poor foundations, tree root action and inexperienced and unsupervised site operatives were to blame. The appeal was allowed due to the exceptional circumstances which would not create a precedent (West Lancashire D.C. 13/8/87 DCS No.039-136-000). A similar case (Macclesfield B.C. 4/11/85 DCS No.044-129-930) which concerned the loss of a listed green belt farmhouse was also allowed. Here permission had been granted for alterations and extensions to the farmhouse, and the inspector concluded that the impact of the replacement was not so markedly different from that permitted as to justify refusal.
Finally, an interesting case concerned a replacement proposal for a house lost by mining subsidence. The inspector thought that green belt policies should prevail as the appellant had already been compensated for the loss of the original house and the present proposal was a speculation (Newark & Sherwood D.C. 4/7/85 DCS No.055-470-090).
Replacement of caravan 9.6312
Proposals for the replacement of caravans with permanent dwellings rarely succeed in open rural areas due to the ease with which it can be shown that a new building would be more intrusive, though exceptions may of course be made where there is agricultural justification (see 9.33). A typical appeal rejection is (Monmouth D.C. 12/7/88 100-015-637) where the appellant argued that in granting a personal permission for the caravan the local authority had accepted the principle of “general domestic usage”. The inspector concluded that the proposal would consolidate an area of isolated sporadic development contrary to policy.
On the other hand there are appeal examples where the removal of caravans and their replacement by permanent houses have been thought to be a planning gain because an eyesore would be removed, and a replacement would be discreet. Some examples are cited at (9.2331). A further appeal example is (Babergh B.C. 16/5/86 DCS No.052-167-649) where replacement of a gypsy caravan with a permanent dwelling was thought to be a visual improvement. However, a similar decision to approve a plan to replace a three-bedroom mobile home with a two-storey house was quashed in the High Court. The inspector had decided that the house would be less harmful than the fallback position of an extant planning permission for a double unit mobile home. (Maldon 06/12/00 DCS No. 043-760-139) In the council’s challenge, it claimed that the inspector was wrong to allow the plan on the basis that the current mobile home was an existing permanent dwelling house which planning policy allowed to be reasonably replaced. The council’s argument was upheld by the court. Fareham B.C. v SSETR 06/06/01.
In (Warwick 08/12/99 DCS No. 032-746-755) the inspector’s first task was to establish whether or not, in fact, it was a dwelling which had replaced a caravan. Planning permission had been granted for the stationing of 3 caravans on a site. A pine lodge structure was placed on the site in 1997 and the council accepted that this was a caravan and did not need permission. Another structure was introduced and was enforced against. The inspector had to decide whether it was a caravan under the 1968 Act or a building. The latter had to be established having regard to the tests set out in Barvis Ltd v S.O.S. . These related to its size, permanence and physical attachment. Whilst it matched the definition of a twin-unit caravan, its method of construction which took 3 months, rendered it outside the definition. It had been completed as a single structure and was not capable of movement from one place to another without much dismantling work. The work of assembly constituted “building operations” and whilst visually similar to the pine lodge, it was not a caravan. Under ground (a) it was harmful to the green belt and was refused.
Again, in an appeal involving a replacement dwelling in the green belt an inspector had firstly to determine whether the existing structure constituted a dwellinghouse. In 1991 temporary planning permission had been granted for the retention of a residential caravan. The caravan was not removed when the permission expired and in the interim a chimney breast, kitchen alcove and rear porch had been added. Following negotiations, a LDC was issued for the siting of a caravan with extensions in 2000. The inspector noted that approximately half the property did not comprise a caravan but extensions built of brick and timber. Although the original caravan could be detached from the extensions, it would be likely to collapse. Having regard to these circumstances he agreed that the existing structure was not temporary but involved a permanent dwellinghouse. However the replacement dwelling would be considerably larger than the existing property by approximately 25%. It would be taller and bulkier and would therefore fail to maintain the openness of the area to the same extent as the existing structure. Since very special circumstances had not been put forward, the scheme was unacceptable. (West Lancashire 15/09/04 DCS No. 030-602-873).
An enforcement notice directed towards the erection of a permanent dwelling on a mobile home park raised similar issues. An inspector upheld the notice and determined that a new building had been constructed. The site was located within a privately owned mobile home park and the appellant argued that although the original aluminium clad mobile home had been replaced with a timber structure, it could still be regarded as a caravan and not a building. Consequently, because no building works had been involved, there had not been a breach of planning control. The inspector in examining this matter looked at the size, permanence and physical attachment of the structure to the ground. Apart from a steel chassis, nothing else remained of the original mobile home, he observed. It stood on a concrete base and the walls were made of timber covered with marine plywood, he noted, and it had a pitched timber roof. In his opinion it had a high degree of permanence and the structure rested onto brick plinth walls, which were permanently cemented into the concrete base. It had been built from scratch and accordingly he determined that it involved operational development for which permission was required. (Mid Bedfordshire 18/02/05 DCS No. 524-104-780)
The gradual transformation of a caravan into a mobile home can give rise to enforcement action as illustrated by (Epping Forest 10/03/99 DCS No. 057-171-098). A caravan became a building and immune from enforcement. Two enforcement notices alleged an unauthorised stationing of a mobile home/caravan along with various extensions. A council argued that the appellant was estopped on the basis that misleading representations were made about the stationing of the mobile home and the extensions. In particular the appellant had argued that they were permitted by virtue of the renovation works associated with converting a barn into a dwellinghouse. An inspector rejected this argument since council officers had made frequent visits to the site and it was for the council to determine the legal position. Under ground (b) it was concluded that whilst the stationing of the mobile home was originally permitted under Schedule 2, Part 5, Class a of the GDO 1988, three phases of extensions effectively changed the mobile home into a building. These extensions provided a substantial degree of affixation to provide an air of permanence. Thus the two notices did not correctly identify the correct breach of control which was the erection of a dwellinghouse. The two notices were amended and under ground (d) it was concluded that the mobile home and extensions had constituted a single dwellinghouse since 1993 and were thus immune from action. A council’s argument that the mobile home constituted permitted development under the GPDO such that the breach did not occur until the works on the barn had been completed, was rejected. Furthermore a related argument that the breach related to the condition within parts 4A and 5A of the GDO given the fact that only minor works to renovating the barn were undertaken, was also rejected. Once the mobile home had been transformed into a building, there could no longer be a breach of the condition and therefore the 10 year rule did not apply.
As with replacement dwellings increased size over the existing accommodation can be an issue as shown in the following cases:
The replacement of a 35m2, single unit mobile home in the East Hampshire AONB with a new dwelling of 177m2 was considered by an inspector. The existing property had been on site since 1989 and lay within an attractive, mature garden of 0.3ha. The appellant argued that the existing property was too small and instead proposed a four bedroom house in the centre of the site. The council asserted that the substantial increase in floorspace would undermine the supply of small, affordable dwellings. However the inspector noted that the existing property was valued at £120,000 which placed it beyond the reach of many rural workers. Thus it did not form part of the stock of affordable rural dwellings, he reasoned. Notwithstanding this conclusion he judged that a permanent dwelling would be very different in size and character when compared with the mobile home but this did not justify rejection since it would be possible to replace the existing mobile home with one of approximately 11m2 without planning permission. However he held that a new access road would lead to the loss of fir trees which formed a beneficial feature of the landscape. In addition the access would create a large bellmouth which would also entail the loss of several metres of hedgerow. Although the design and visual impact of the replacement dwelling was acceptable, these additional works were harmful to the AONB, he judged and the appeal was dismissed. (Winchester 28/06/02 DCS No. 047-902-567)
Winchester: Replacement with larger dwelling judged acceptable but rejected due to loss of trees and hedgerow
An enforcement notice required a new house to be modified in order to comply with the approved plans. It was noted that an approved scheme allowed a 32% increase over an original mobile home whereas the development was built was 65% larger. Although the roof had only been raised by 1 m. the overall effect was to lead to a greater impact on the countryside. It had created a 4 bedroom house rather than a single storey dwelling. The notice was upheld. (North West Leicestershire 03/02/00 DCS No. 035-391-747).
As with dwellings personal circumstances can be put forward to support a case for the replacement of unsatisfactory accommodation as the following West Midlands case shows. An inspector held that the personal circumstances of the appellants were not very special circumstances sufficient to justify the replacement of a mobile home in the green belt with a permanent dwelling. He accepted that their children’s health may have been impaired by damp in the mobile home, but considered that it did not justify inappropriate development. (Walsall 07/02/95 DCS No. 100-031-871)
Reconstruction of existing inhabited dwelling 9.632
The main area of debate in cases relating to inhabited dwelling rebuilds is whether it is reasonable to deny a proposal for the reconstruction of a building that already exists as a feature of the rural scene and which does not create an additional dwelling in the countryside. Common subjects are inter-war wooden bungalows, which, it is often argued, are substandard by modern standards and reasonable renovation of which does no harm and indeed may result in as overall gain in terms of the public interest. If a building is listed, in a conservation area or perhaps even just a good example of local vernacular building, there is of course good reason for a local authority to support a renovation scheme provided that it respects the original scale and character of the structure.
In some cases the alterations necessary to make a dwelling conform to modern space standards, particularly Building Regulation requirements, may result in an assertive structure leading to judgements, as enshrined in many structure plan policies, that what is proposed is “tantamount to a new dwelling in the open countryside”. In such cases it is common for decisions to be made on the basis of policies relating to replacement dwellings. Exposed sites in areas of designated landscape importance are naturally likely to attract the severest application of this policy stance, although green belt designation is not necessarily an obstacle to a permission, as shown by (Newark & Sherwood D.C. 9/3/89 DCS No.055-321-666).
A typical example of a landscape impact dismissal is (Dover D.C. 16/12/85 DCS No.054-881-598) where a corrugated iron bungalow which formerly had a somewhat tenuous hold on existence had been rebuilt without permission in an A.O.N.B. The inspector concluded that the appearance of the building had been materially affected by reason of the raising of the roof and removal of the former front bays. The works were extensive, involving the complete replacement of the roof, floor and the exterior and interior cladding, and the substantial replacement of the timber frame, all over a short space of time, and the identity of the original building had been lost. On the planning merits, the inspector noted that the bungalow had been in poor condition and, although it could have been used for residential occupation for some time, would eventually have collapsed. Now the site had a more permanent built up urban appearance. The notice was upheld and the entire structure required to be demolished. The case detailed at (9.67/1) is an example of a less severe approach being taken, albeit in less sensitive surroundings, which took more account of the pre-existence of the building and personal hardship.
A further issue which may be important in dwelling renovation cases is the permitted development factor i.e. consideration of the fact that a scheme of similar impact may be possible using the G.P.D.O. rights discussed at (9.613).
Enforcement action against wooden bungalow alterations and extension can in practice lead to the loss of the dwelling altogether, a matter discussed at (9.65).
Re-use of abandoned dwelling 9.633
Most abandoned dwelling re-use cases relate to existing buildings which are small and often ruinous in condition, as in the illustrated example from Wales (Pembrokeshire Coast N.P.C. 25/4/88 050-138-032). In this type of case impact on the environment by reconstruction may be significantly greater than where an inhabited dwelling is involved, and local authorities are in a far stronger position to argue that a new dwelling is to be created contrary to countryside policy. A typical appeal case is (Monmouth D.C. 28/9/88 035-720-648) where a small dwelling agreed to have been abandoned was proposed to be renovated and extended. The inspector thought that the existing building was too diminutive to provide basic living accommodation without substantial enlargement. This would mean a new roof over an enlarged area, and the resulting structure would be akin to a new dwelling and thus in breach of policy.
In most instances the strength of the objections against the re-use of abandoned dwellings obviates any use of personal issues to support a case for planning permission.
Examples of allowed appeals are very rare indeed, and in practice planning permission is usually only forthcoming when there is some form of planning gain to be achieved, such as the sensitive restoration of a building of considerable architectural or historic interest. A fascinating case of this kind (Dunfermline D.C. 7/12/88 046-212-493) concerned a proposal to rebuild on the site of a 17th century house known as the Witches Tower of which little was left except one wall and two vaulted chambers at semi-basement level. A reporter was impressed with the scheme as a “plausible attempt to reproduce the original”, despite the architectural criticisms that had been made.
In an unusual case in the Forest of Dean a replacement dwelling was allowed following the repair of the existing dwelling. A local plan policy indicated that in locations where the erection of new dwellings was contrary to other plan policies, the replacement of an existing dwelling immediately capable of providing residential accommodation would be permitted provided a number of criteria were met. Following an unsuccessful appeal to replace a dilapidated bungalow, the appellants undertook works including the re-instatement of facilities, repair and re-decoration. The inspector decided that at the time of his visit the building was capable of providing residential accommodation. However, because of the type of construction he considered that it was unable to offer a satisfactory standard of accommodation, and therefore satisfied the criteria of the policy. (Forest of Dean 28/10/98 DCS No. 041-812-467)
General design and planning standards 9.634
As has already been indicated with regard to both reconstruction and replacement cases, sensitive design may help to overcome many criticisms of development to which there is no fundamental objection. It is obviously in an applicant’s or appellant’s interest to secure the best possible design advice, but in many cases, certainly those involving renovation, there is a tendency for there to be no professional input at all. Local planning authorities may advise as to the best form of design for rural replacement buildings, but because of ministerial guidance on design control matters, are at a disadvantage when it comes to enforcing that advice. Staffing problems, which exist in some local authority planning departments, may limit the time and expertise available to evaluate the likely impact of proposals and to assess what is needed to lessen adverse visual effects.
Other more tangible planning standards may also be applied, although in terms of traffic generation and access, replacement proposals are likely to have little significant effect, particularly due to the precedent of the existing dwelling. Of course in the case of a dwelling where abandonment has been shown, this argument may be discounted as there is no legal fall back. In many cases existing poor accesses may be improved as the result of replacement dwellings, and this may be a planning gain which could offset other objections.
Larger dwellings or resited dwellings may, of course, lead to the overlooking or overshadowing of neighbouring property.